Parenting, as we frequently point out, is the most rewarding and most stressful job on the planet. Part of the reward you receive from parenting is learning how to do everything in a timely fashion. Part of the stress you receive from parenting is learning that time means nothing to children. There is a bit of give and take here; you know that time matters, but your kids have a mind of their own. This often leaves you wondering how you are going to get everything done in a timely fashion and how you are going to keep yourself from going insane. As the mother of four kids (6, 4 next month and twins that will turn 1 next month) I can tell you a thing or two (or 300) about time management and what I’ve learned about it being a parent. In fact, I might just do that. Because once you learn how effective time management is, you will realize that parenting is nowhere near as difficult as you thought.
A Schedule Matters
The single most important thing you will learn about time management when you are a parent is that creating a schedule is the only way you will stay sane and accomplish anything. You will learn very quickly that sticking to your schedule as often as possible is the key to your family’s success in staying completely normal and free of anger.
There is not time for procrastination when you have kids. If you can get that last load of laundry folded and put away before you pick the oldest up from school, do it. This will give you some free time to get dinner made, the dishes cleaned, or the babies bathed once you get home. The more you get done now, the more relaxed you will feel.
Utilize Nap Time
When your kids are sleeping, take advantage of it. When my babies are napping and my big kids are at school, I work. This is when I get the bulk of my work done so that I can try and accomplish everything before they wake up and life takes over and makes it impossible for me to get anything done again.
Get the Kids to Bed on Time
If you can get the kids to bed at a decent time each night, you will find that you are more relaxed and you have time for you. We like to get the babies to bed, clean the kitchen after dinner, pick up the house (we are kind of anal so our house never gets messy – we are pick up as we go kind of people) and get everything done while the big girls are bathing, cleaning their rooms and prepping for bed. Then it’s the bedtime routine and then it’s OUR time. And that’s the time that relaxes us and preps us for the following day.
Lay Things Out the Night Before
If you are half ready to start your day before you even wake up in the morning, you will feel a lot more confident and a lot less stressed in your life. Getting things ready ahead of time can really make a big difference in your day, and it’s highly recommended.
Don’t Leave things Undone
The more you leave undone, the more you have to do. You might want to sit down for 10 minutes now, but wouldn’t you rather just get things done and feel the happiness that comes along with that? I know I would. I’d rather work myself to death all day so that I can enjoy the evenings with my kids and husband than leave things undone and say, “I’ll get to it when my husband gets home,” and then feel stressed and a little sad.
Make it a Game
When it comes to getting anything accomplished on time with kids, you have to turn it into a game. My almost 4-year-old hates getting dressed in the morning, but my 1st grader has to be at school at a certain time. My solution is to make it a game, “I bet mommy can get herself and the babies dressed before you can get dressed!” and then watch her beat me. I always let her win because I really win.
Allow 15 Minutes Extra Per Child
If you have kids, you need an extra 15 minutes per kid to get ready. If you can do it without that extra time, good for you. By the way my mornings and days work is that someone hate the clothes they BEGGED to wear the night before, someone forgot to brush their teeth, one of the babies needs a new outfit and a new diaper thanks to an unfortunate explosion, someone forgot to grab her lunchbox, someone needs this, that or the other. There is always something, and if you give yourself the time to deal, you will find you are not stressed, and you are relaxed.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Sometimes you have to stop everything and just enjoy life. That half day your kids have next week? Go ahead and make a plan now to spend the afternoon doing something fun with them instead of sticking to that schedule. It’s going to make your otherwise very routine life a little more exciting and a little more worthwhile. Kids make things take so much longer, they make you late, they make you crazy and they make you wonder what you were thinking, but they also make you want to sit down and just love them and spend time with them, too. And that’s perfectly all right.
Make a List
A list is going to become your best friend when you have kids. And having kids will teach you precisely this lesson. There is always so much going on that a list is something you need to have to feel even remotely sane. We can say with certainty that having a list is going to help you accomplish things in a timelier manner.
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